New conference to explore cannabis and drinks

13th June, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

As cannabis legalisation sweeps across North America, a new conference will assess the “challenges and potential opportunities” the industry presents to drinks.

Cannabis legalisation has been described as the “biggest threat” to the alcohol industry

Hosted by Beverage Trade Network, the Cannabis Drinks Expo will take place in San Francisco on 25 July 2019 and will be the first event of its kind.

The exhibition and conference will “give worldwide drinks industry, and North America in particular, the chance to come together and look at ways it can start addressing what has been described as the biggest ever threat to its future”.

Canada is set to legalise recreational cannabis use next month, while a number of US states have passed similar legislation.

According to analysts at Arcview Market Research, the legal cannabis market is currently worth almost US$7 billion, and could be worth US$23bn by 2021.

A number of commentators have expressed concern over the threat cannabis presents to the alcohol market.

Last year, market research provider Euromonitor predicted that the legalisation of cannabis in Canada will hit alcohol sales, warning that the “dangers of a cannibalising effect are very real”.

Some drinks groups have attempted to wade off the threat by moving into cannabis-infused drinks. In October last year, US drinks group Constellation Brands purchased a minority stake in Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corporation, with the intention of co-creating beverages.

Just last month, the largest wine and spirits distributor in North America, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, created a subsidiary exclusively for the representation of cannabis products in Canada.

The unit, called Great North Distributors, has entered into a partnership with cannabis producer Aphria to distribute its products throughout Canada once recreational cannabis use is legalised.

Ahead of the inaugural Cannabis Drinks Expo, Beverage Trade Network will work with the North American drinks industry to develop relevant content.

The show organiser said: “This will be a unique chance for the industry to determine what strategies it needs to put in place now to capitalise on the huge opportunities for legalised cannabis drinks-related products over the next five to 10 years and how they can open up new distribution channels and markets.”

The Cannabis Drinks Expo is open to those involved in the development, production, distribution and retailing of all alcoholic drinks, cannabis and other related products.

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